I am thinking of applying for a maths PhD programme. I have more or less an idea of the subfield I'd like to research, but not much more than that. I'm looking for suggestions on how to properly figure out my topic, and I was planning to ask a more detailed question on MathOverflow, but I'm not sure this kind of question is appropriate for the site. Is it? (I'm not even sure this very question is suitable for Meta MathOverflow, but I'm running out of options here...)

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    $\begingroup$ Asking here about suitableness on Main is absolutely on-topic for Meta! I'm not sure about the intended question, only because it seems borderline between MO and Academia.SE. If you had specific mathematical questions (eg, "I'm interested in x, y and z, what are specific current details about a, b, c that I might do for a PhD"), then that seems at least in the ballpark on being on-topic. If it was more of a general "How do I find out info about topic x, y and z", then that feels closer to Academia, where there are a number of active mathematicians who could answer) $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Sep 21 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ However, even the second situation is not so clear-cut. A well-motivated and explained question might garner an informative response like this similar-seeming question did: mathoverflow.net/questions/430646/… $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Sep 21 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ I think I'll try on Academia first, and if nothing comes out, I'll risk being scolded for posting an irrelevant question on Math Overflow... $\endgroup$
    – Nicola
    Sep 21 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ It's not irrelevant - if Academia.SE didn't exist I think no one would complain. If you were to post a draft of the question here I could be a bit more concrete in my comments. Best of luck, in any case! $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Sep 21 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ I posted it here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/188974/…. Maybe it's too subjective, I don't know, but it was worth a shot. $\endgroup$
    – Nicola
    Sep 21 at 14:12


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